10 Jan 2014

Williams to play Australian wildcard in Australian Open first round

1:31 pm on 10 January 2014

The world tennis number one, Serena Williams, will play the Australian wildcard Ashleigh Barty in the first round of the Australian Open which begins in Melbourne next week.

The draw means Williams, who is attempting to win her her 18th grand slam title, could face Australia's Sam Stosur in the fourth-round - a re-match of the 2011 US Open final, which Stosur won.

The two-times defending champion and second seed, Victoria Azarenka, will take on Sweden's Johanna Larsson in the first round.

The third seed, Maria Sharapova, will play American Bethanie Mattek-Sands, while the fourth seed and runner-up at Melbourne Park last year, Li Na, will play a qualifier.